The most beautiful feature New Zealand offers is the accessibility of untouched nature. With the ability to hike up a mountain in the morning, swim at a gnarly surf beach in the afternoon and relax in geothermal hot springs by dusk, it’s the dream location for any adventure traveller.
For my lovely travellers, I have saved you a bit of research time and put together a list of my favourite free adventure activities around New Zealand. Enjoy!
Only a half hour drive from Auckland CBD, Fairy Falls is just as the name implies, a luscious utopia of emerald green with glass-like water. Tucked away in the forest, it’s only an hour walk into the bush and you’ll see a magnificent cascading waterfall. Follow the dulcet sound of water to find it.
Glow Worm Caves
Visit Waitomo once because it’s incredible, but if you’re a keen photographer, head to New Plymouth to explore the glowworm caves where you can practise low light photography in peace. Waitomo have enforced a ban on photography, so this is the place to go if you want to capture the illuminated caves in full glory. Find them located at Urenui Beach in Taranaki.
Embrace the Devil’s Staircase because the view at the top is well worth the intense cardio. Just prepare yourself with bountiful amounts of chocolate and snacks to enjoy along the way.
Travel tip: The track will take around 6 hours all up, but you can walk 3 hours in (and see cool things like Mount Doom, molten volcanic rock planes and the blue pools) and then hike back to the carpark to enjoy the sunset on the way back.
If you’re planning a trip down to Queenstown, Arrowtown is a must-see. It’s an adorably quaint town just out of Queenstown with a long history of gold mining and archeology. Feel as if you’re walking through the English country-side, and pick up a gold pick for only $5 if you want the full experience.
You could pay $30 to visit DeBretts in Taupo, or you could choose the natural option and visit Spa Park which is right next to the Waikato River, about 10 mins from Taupo township. The best part is that you can lie down with half your body in the hot springs and your toes in the cold river simultaneously! Head up the hill for a more secluded pool all to yourself.
At North Piha, walk to the far right of the beach and you’ll find a discrete pathway up the mountain. Follow it up to the top, head through the trees and then take the rope down the mountain to a secluded secret beach. Keep this one on the down low.
When hiking with my whanau (family), we got an hour into the walk and they said, “So, are we there yet?”. I only responded with a laugh. The first stop is 4+ hours away and the entire trip will take you 2-3 days. If you’ve not got long, you can just take a short round trip as there are beautiful views the entire way. If you’re in it for the long haul, book some DOC campsites to break the journey and bring your camping supplies.
My boyfriend works out at the dams as a technician so we often pop in to “the office” for hikes. Let’s face it, working in the forest on a daily basis – he literally has the dream job, and loves it enough to go in on weekends.
New Chums Beach
This beach is a Kiwi secret, but it welcomes travellers if you promise to leave it as you find it. To the left of Whangapoua in the Coromandel is a beautiful beach which takes a short hike to get to. If you put in the effort to get there, you’ll be rewarded with the most idyllic and untouched beach similar to Maya Bay in Thailand.
Travel tip: Please leave our beaches as you find them. As Kiwis we really respect our land and want to keep it clean and beautiful. Leave nothing but footprints.
Karangahake Gorge lies between the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges, and is the best spot for a stunning walk through the caves which overlook rivers and canyon.
There’s nowhere quite like Mount Cook in the summertime. From the vibrantly coloured lupin, to the warm crystalised blue water set amongst a snowy mountain backdrop, it’s a blissful euphoria of juxtaposing seasons. Choose from a range of short hikes to incredible vantage points of the lakes, glaciers and even icebergs. Complete with a sprawling Doc campsite, it’s the perfect getaway spot in the heart of the South Island.
EARNSLAW BURN GLACIER HIKE
This hike isn’t for the faint hearted! You’ll spend most of the 12 hour return hike clambering over fallen trees and unstable path, but once you get to the finish, you’ll be thankful that you persevered to the end. Camp as close as you like to the most impressive glacier which happens to feature on The Hobbit. Just be wary of rockfall when choosing your campsite, and enjoy the sound of the crackling avalanches in the distance!
Travel tip: If you’re short on time, Roy’s peak is just as challenging + rewarding but only takes 6 hours return. Located on the outskirts of Wanaka.
WEST COAST RIVER RAPIDS
This is an activity for the thrill seekers… Along the Buller River there are multiple spots for diving (caution: check depth first), and even rapid riding. Take an inflatable raft, check the direction of the water (ensure there are no jagged rocks) and have a wild old time!
So there you have it, my top ten activities. If you can add any to the list, feel free to mention them in the comments, or ask me any questions, I’m always happy to help.
Enjoy my stunning country!